Recent Alerts & Scams
JANUARY 2018 – Caller ID and Spoofing
“Spoofing” occurs when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally. U.S. law and FCC rules prohibit most types of spoofing.
How does spoofing work?
Caller ID lets consumers avoid unwanted phone calls by displaying caller names and phone numbers, but the caller ID feature is sometimes manipulated by spoofers who masquerade as representatives of banks, creditors, insurance companies, or even the government.
What you can do if you think you’re being spoofed?
You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information.
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers,mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.
- Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
- If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it.Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.
For more information on how to protect yourself from spoofing, visit the FCC website.
NOVEMBER 2017 – Protect Yourself from Scam
Scammers and fraudsters are getting increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to get your money and personal information but there are precautions you can take and activities you should be doing to protect yourself.
Simply being aware that scams exist and are on the rise is a good place to start. Scams target everyone and can succeed because they look like the real thing and catch you off guard when you’re not expecting it. While scammers will attempt to exploit our desire to be trusting, polite and respectful, anytime you are dealing with uninvited contacts or solicitations from people or businesses, always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam and remember, if it appears too good to be true, it probably is.
Protecting Your Privacy, Identity & Online Security
Your personal information is a valuable commodity. It’s not only the key to your financial identity, but also to your online identity. Knowing how to protect your information — and your identity — is a must in the 21st century. Whether over the phone, by email, mail, in person or on a social networking site, NEVER give out or confirm your personal or financial information to anyone you don’t know or trust.
Here are a few tips from the Federal Trade Commission for staying ahead of scammers and their unexpected solicitations:
- Don’t give out — or confirm — your personal or financial information to anyone who calls or emails.
- Don’t wire money or send money using a reloadable card. In fact, never pay someone who calls out of the blue, even if the name or number on the caller ID looks legit.
- Feeling pressured to act immediately? Hang up. That’s a sure sign of a scam.
- If you’ve gotten a call from a scammer, with or without fake caller ID information, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
- If you get a strange call from a government phone number, hang up. If you want to check it out, visit the official (.gov) website for contact information.
Spotting Fake Documents and Emails
Scammers can easily fake an official-looking document or email using a company’s logo and/or graphics from websites which can make it hard to identify a fake from a legitimate document or email. While some will look like the real thing, others might have some warning signs:
- Use of a generic rather than a personal greeting
- Including names of organizations or people that don’t exist
- Poor quality presentation
- Use of poor grammar and spelling
- Appears overly official or uses forced language
Often times, your guard is down when you receive an email from a company you’ve dealt with before so if you’re not expecting an email or other communication from a trusted source, be alert to the possibility that is could be a fake before clicking on any links or opening any attachments.
Current Scams to Watch Out For
Phone Cheats – Criminals and scammers will call you, claiming to be utility company collectors, healthcare workers, tech-support or even your own children, grandchildren or other family member calling for help. In other variations, criminals may make pitches for credit cards, extended warranties, and phony sweepstakes and lotteries.
IRS Threats – According to the US Treasury Department, phone calls from fake IRS agents have netted crooks about $47 million in three years. The scam is likely to continue into next year but with a twist: The newest likely target will be people with college loans, who are threatened with arrest and other penalties unless a nonexistent “federal student loan” is immediately paid.
Scare Tactics – Like other strong emotions, fear can impact your brain’s logic centers making you more likely to react impulsively. Fake threats of arrest, lawsuits or not paying a bill can impact your compliance with a request for money and/or your personal or financial information.
A New Way of Payoff – Because antifraud groups have raised awareness that a request for payment by wire transfers and prepaid cash cards usually signals a scam, the Federal Trade Commission has made it illegal for telemarketers to ask for payment that way. As a result, many scammers have turned to gift cards as their preferred payment method. Watch for requests to purchase a card, load money on it and then provide the 16-digit code. It’s a fast and virtually untraceable way to steal your money.
Criminals are vigilant, constantly looking for new ways to gain access to you and your money. Stay a step ahead with the latest information from our nation’s consumer protection agency. Sign up for scam alerts from the Federal Trade Commission.
AUGUST 2017 – Equifax Data Breach
We realize news reports of the Equifax Data Breach can leave consumers wondering what they should do. The Federal Trade Commission has published a Consumer Bulletin with helpful information. Click here to learn more.
Denmark State Bank Bankers are a great resource to provide information about convenient ways to monitor your accounts as is recommended by the FTC.
EMPLOYMENT SCAM TARGETING COLLEGE STUDENTS REMAINS PREVALENT
College students across the United States continue to be targeted in a common employment scam. Scammers advertise phony job opportunities on college employment websites, and/or students receive e-mails on their school accounts recruiting them for fictitious positions. This “employment” results in a financial loss for participating students.
How the scam works:
- Scammers post online job advertisements soliciting college students for administrative positions.
- The student employee receives counterfeit checks in the mail or via e-mail and is instructed to deposit the checks into their personal checking account.
- The scammer then directs the student to withdraw the funds from their checking account and send a portion, via wire transfer, to another individual. Often, the transfer of funds is to a “vendor”, purportedly for equipment, materials, or software necessary for the job.
- Subsequently, the checks are confirmed to be fraudulent by the bank.
The following are some examples of the employment scam e-mails:
“You will need some materials/software and also a time tracker to commence your training and orientation and also you need the software to get started with work. The funds for the software will be provided for you by the company via check. Make sure you use them as instructed for the software and I will refer you to the vendor you are to purchase them from, okay.”
“I have forwarded your start-up progress report to the HR Dept. and they will be facilitating your start-up funds with which you will be getting your working equipment from vendors and getting started with training.”
“Enclosed is your first check. Please cash the check, take $300 out as your pay, and send the rest to the vendor for supplies.”
Consequences of participating in this scam:
- The student’s bank account may be closed due to fraudulent activity and a report could be filed by the bank with a credit bureau or law enforcement agency.
- The student is responsible for reimbursing the bank the amount of the counterfeit checks.
- The scamming incident could adversely affect the student’s credit record.
- The scammers often obtain personal information from the student while posing as their employer, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft.
- Scammers seeking to acquire funds through fraudulent methods could potentially utilize the money to fund illicit criminal or terrorist activity.
Tips on how to protect yourself from this scam:
- Never accept a job that requires depositing checks into your account or wiring portions to other individuals or accounts.
- Many of the scammers who send these messages are not native English speakers. Look for poor use of the English language in e-mails such as incorrect grammar, capitalization, and tenses.
- Forward suspicious e-mails to the college’s IT personnel and report to the FBI. Tell your friends to be on the lookout for the scam.